Jan 15, 2014 - Chick-fil-A Uses ‘Tomahawk Chop’ to Profit off Racism Perpetuated by Native Mascots, By Danielle Miller
Native Mascots have been a popular discussion; most focus on negative names, symbols and mascots. Yet another aspect that needs to be discussed with these sports practices, besides dressing up in the stereotypical outfits, are the ridiculous dance routines and chants that go along with the names and mascots.
The notorious Redsk*ns chant was one example of such racism, with the way it made reference to scalping. Thankfully the lyrics to that song were changed. Many can see how that chant was clearly wrong in relation to the Redsk*ns name, since the term ‘redsk*n’ was known to reference Native scalps for bounty historically. The Seminoles war chant also has a reference to scalping. This has not been changed.
Another practice that needs to be banned is the tomahawk chop. The tomahawk chop originated with the Florida State Seminoles but also has been used by Braves fans. The tomahawk has been considered a sacred object for some native cultures although more frequently is associated as a weapon used by natives and in the stereotypical depictions of the harmful violent savage stereotypes.
The Florida state Seminoles have found great amusement of incorporating a movement alluding to the tomahawk in their war chant and fans who dress up in offensive costumes like to include fake tomahawks. Halloween costumes amongst other things love to poke fun with the tomahawk to perpetuate the savage stereotype. Although sports teams have made up this tomahawk chop gesture, it is inaccurate because no tribes actually did the tomahawk chop, it is a completely made up product of marketing and racism.
If you didn’t already boycott Chick-fil-A for their anti gay statements now you may have even more of a reason for their racism against Native Americans. Chick-Fil-A created a giant robotic cow (40 feet high and 15,000 pounds) next to a giant coke bottle with a picture of a tomahawk. The cow’s arm moves to do the “tomahawk dance” but it looks more like a nazi gesture. A simple search on google shows plenty of pictures and videos of the cow; it wears signs with different messages such as: “Chopping makes hungree 4 chikin” “Chop on chikin luverz chop on” “Chop burgerz outta yer diet”.
Chick-fil-A is a company that has proudly presented its Christian values. Chick-fil-A’s tomahawk cow is highly problematic when you consider the history of religious violence Christianity has had with Native Americans, the attempted termination of Native American cultures, as well as attempted extermination of Native Americans was committed in the name of Christianity.
This modern perpetuation of stereotypes continues to be an act of cultural conquest as well as a strategy to dehumanize Native Americans to justify other acts of economic conquest. Native mascots, as well as dances like the tomahawk chant, continue to contribute to these issues and do nothing but perpetuate ignorance and racism.
I do not even want to entertain the “honor” argument on this issue, but it will be addressed since that is the most frequent excuse for racism against natives in sports. In no way do I see how the tomahawk chant could be an honor to Natives. It references the history of scalping and perpetuates false savage stereotypes. The act of even perpetuating stereotypes, and such a graphic dance and chant, is primitive and beyond disrespectful.
The fact that children are witnessing these atrocities is unacceptable. Fake tomahawks are being sold at games. What a way to market racism and violence to children and sports fans.
It wouldn’t be the first time that the tomahawk was depicted, although the Chick-fil-A cow is beyond obnoxious. There was an uproar after a FSU National Champions shirt was sold which depicted an arrow and tomahawk with the words “Scalp em!”
A picture has been posted on several social networks with teenage boys dressed in violent savage stereotypes, one boy even pretending to be dead with a tomahawk in his throat. The caption reads: “The Seminole Tribe has entered the @selfieolympics”
The tomahawk associations are all negative, stereotypical and violent. These are not images that honor us and are in fact extremely harmful towards our cultures as well as the self esteem of our children. These depictions even are harming children that aren’t Native American because they are being taught that these violent stereotypes are ethical and acceptable. When these ideas are taught it leads these children to grow up reinforcing racist oppressive systems and stereotypes even if they aren’t aware. Because these problematic thought processes become subconscious and intrinsic in our youth, they become even more difficult to eradicate later in life.
All of our issues are connected. Our bigger issues will never be addressed if America believes that the only Natives that exist were the false stereotyped savages that they created. It’s time to stop accepting their stereotypes of what we should be and start informing everyone on what we actually are and how we want to be represented. Walking on eggshells in fear of offending the oppressor is only contributing to the erasure of our cultures and identities. It all comes down to a choice. Are you willing to defend our dignity and traditions or will you contribute to the perpetuation of disrespect, violence and false stereotypes?